“Promising Young Woman” – one incredible film

“You know they put themselves in danger, girls like that.” 

Story: Cassie and Nina grew up together. Went to med school together. And dropped out of med school together, after Nina was horribly raped during a party. Years later, Cassie leads a life of making sure douchey men think twice before taking advantage of women…but then a run-in with a former med-school classmate stokes thoughts of revenge. Revenge served freezing cold.

Genre I’d put it in: Payback’s A Bitch Pitch-Black Comedies

Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on Emerald Fennell’s short film “Careful How You Go”.

Gotta say: OH MY GOD THIS MOVIE IS GOOD. There. I said it. If you read nothing else, I got that out there. But please continue, because I crave attention y’all. And this movie is worth your time. 

Let’s start with the stellar cast. Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge play her parents. It does not get any better than this. Oh wait it does – Laverne Cox. And Connie Britton.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bo Burnham, Molly Shannon, Chris Lowell, Alfred Molina… Holy crap this is a plethora of Awesomeness. I am not worthy of such bounty. But I accept it gratefully. 

The fourth wall breaking smirk by Mulligan at the start of the film lets you know this is gonna be a comedy. A jet black comedy. Seriously, mankind has not created nor seen a color as dark as the comedy in this movie. That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell folks that the subject matter here is not one to be taken lightly. Sexual abuse is laid out as the hideous, heartbreaking, nauseatingly disgusting thing it is, and while we never see what happened to Nina? It’s in our faces in various other ways, which may have some individuals much more than uncomfortable. 

I absolutely understand if you don’t want to watch this due to the choppers being way too close (I felt them a time or two myself), or just because the subject matter is way too much. But if you’re able to give Woman a look, I highly encourage you to watch. Because this film can be the jumping off point for a discussion of abuse, and how various members of society – both men and women, as well as individuals personally affected or not – deal with that. 

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, who is not only amazing as a performer in The Crown, but a creator to watch. This is her first feature film, and I am gobsmacked. If this is how she comes out of the gate, I cannot wait for more from this talented lady. Add in the snarky dialogue and delicately timed plot, I’m absolutely astounded.

And it’s pulled off brilliantly by this cast. I love how they’ve all gotten into the super-dark English humor aspect of the storyline, and even though most are American, each performer delivers the goods. Speaking of performers, I need to take a moment to throw some serious love to Carey Mulligan. Her Cassie is brilliant, broken, and wicked smart. Emphasis on the wicked. She’s never moved past Nina’s attack, and while I can’t blame her I also feel for those who love her who want her to. Like Coolidge and Brown, who play Cassie’s parents; they’re torn between loving their daughter and wanting her to start her life (though kinda knowing she never will.) Or Laverne Cox’s Gail, Cassie’s boss (and the closest thing to a BFF Cassie has nowadays.) Fennell pulls the very best from all of her performers – including an incredible turn by Alfred Molina as the attorney who defended the guy who attacked Nina, who is dealing with a crisis of faith, and a Dark Night of the Soul.

It’s fantastically creepy to watch the male actors channel all the stuff we’ve ever heard into their performances. All the “Oh, I thought we had a connection”, “Wait; you’re sober? Then you should go home”, and of course, the ”I’m a nice guy” thing. It’s every single thing you’ve ever heard a guy say, or ever heard a female friend tell you after an encounter with some douche. It’s powerful stuff, and again, something some folks may not be able to deal with. And I get that. But I can’t help but gush about the performances, while simultaneously trying to quell the rising mental bile. That’s some seriously good acting. 

Okay, so I could sing the praises of this film all damn day. The gorgeously framed shots – damn that one shot of Cassie sitting on her mother’s sofa is perfection. The too beautiful for the world portrayed in this film cinematography (a heartbreaking juxtaposition to the dark, icky people Cassie has met in her life.) I’m still absolutely gobsmacked that this is Fennell’s first outing as a feature film director. As Woman will surely be nominated for many awards this season, it won’t be her last. And that’s the bright sunny day after this dark, “Jesus you laughed at that?” film. 

Yeah, I laughed. It was that, or cry. And the writing is so good it draws a horrifying chuckle out of you even in the deepest, darkest moments. I won’t say enjoy, like I do with so many films I think are worthy. I’ll only say watch. And let it sink in. 

Grade: A+ (yeah I added a plus. This film deserves it.)

#Protip:You’re gonna want the soundtrack to this film in your life, on constant loop. Here it is. You’re very welcome.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
This entry was posted in 7 Pieces Of, Awards Season and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to “Promising Young Woman” – one incredible film

  1. Dawn says:

    Absolutely agree!!! It was horrifying (watching the “nice guys”) and vindicating (watching Cassie play them), heartbreakingly sad and tragic (love interest and ending)…but I was there for it all! I thoroughly enjoyed this film!


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